‘Loss-making zones get more projects under leaders’ influence’
Even as the East Coast Railway (ECoR) is one of the most profit-making railway zones of the country, the Railway Ministry has not been fairly treating Odisha and Chhattisgarh (another profit-making zone) for decades, says leading non-resident Odia (NRO) Professor Digambara Patra.
In a letter to Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda, Assistant Professor of Beirut University, USA Dr Patra also points out that many loss-making projects in Bihar and West Bengal were approved and completed under the influence of former Railway Ministers.
Both Chhattisgarh and Odisha have lower than national average of railway track per 1000 km and need special considerations, Patra said in the letter written on Monday.
Most of the railway lines Khordha road-Balangir, Talcher-Bimalagarh, Lanjigarh road-Junagarh extension to Jeypore to Bhadrachalam road, Dhamtari-Jagdalpur, Raipur-Rajim-Debhog-Junagarh, Talcher-Lanjigarh road, Angul-Sukinda and Kantabanji-Jeypore are not progressing due to diversion of funds to other States by powerful political leaders, Dr Patra further alleges.
Patra says while railway lines for many of the loss-making routes in Bihar and West Bengal were approved and completed in time, 56-km-long Lanjigarh road — Junagarh railway line, a part of Lanjigarh road —Ambaguda line, took 25 years to be completed. Junagarh—Ambaguda section of this route has not even sanctioned.
Patra cites the example of Khordha road—Balangir railway project, which is moving in snail’s space.
As Howrah—Chennai route was congested and a route via Kharagpur, Baripada, Talcher, Lanjigarh road, Junagarh, Nabarangpur, Jeypore, Malkangiri, Bhadrachalam road and Vijaywada will not only decongest the route but also bring development to many tribal dominated districts of the country, Dr Patra observes, adding that the proposed route would also connect Hyderabad directly with Ranchi and Patna (via Titlagarh-Junagarh) or Kolkata (via Baripada-Lanjigarh road-Bhadrachalam road).
Appreciating the special emphasis by the Railways for development in the North Eastern States and Jammu and Kashmir, he urges the Minister to give special emphasis on the KBK area and Kandhamal, Kanker, Jagdalpur, Raipur and Dhamtari, which are among the worst Maoist- affected districts of the country.
He also points out that major railway development and factories were approved in Rae Bareli, Amethi and Chaptra only under pressure of political leaders.
Patra expresses concern that the proposed low-budget Wagon Maintenance Workshop in Kalahandi and Wagon Factory in Ganjam have not yet started.
He demands that the railway projects in Odisha and Chhattisgarh be expedited and completed in five years. This apart, he also demands that a new railway coach factory be set up at Narla Road in Odisha.